This will be a great year for comic book films. At the end of the day you've got to think how great it is for comics to be fully realized on screen. While the Box Office has been trying this for years with varying success, the 2000s created some well made comic book films and the 2010s has made it into it's own genre that rakes in millions of revenue. However, like the films, not all comic book superheroes are created equal. While villains and sidekicks make for great lists as well, I've decided to keep it to the heroes for this list. Along with that, I've also decided to include any adaptions of said character (perhaps you like Daredevil more because of the show or maybe you've jumped off the Wolverine train because you're tired of him).
Anyways, let's get started - Character must have their own comic book series. Groups count as one entry.
HM: The Flash
Apparently, the Flash show is pretty good. With that being said, I never really got into the Flash, as you'll see most of this list either superheroes of color, women or tortured white men. The Flash is nowhere near as tortured, but for some reason I always thought he was fairly cool. His super speed seemed uninteresting to me, until you start to think of all the ways you can play with that power. Furthermore, he's not "I have every power" Superman. With time, I think I could get more into the Flash, but at this point he's not enough to be in my top 10.
10. Teen Titans
Personally, I've always enjoyed this series. The comics have themes that make far more sense to teenagers, which eventually comics realized was their main demographic. Not adults (though now nostalgia has changed that), not little kids, but teens who understand the issues. I oddly appreciate this more than some of the Justice League stories as it makes sidekicks and younger versions of characters into prominent protaganists. For me this is also the first time Robin is cool and his supporting cast is even better. Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, and Cyborg are a diverse set of characters and represent a variety of identities that are relatable to the real world. Lastly, the show is great and makes improvements and expansions on the characters.
9. Luke Cage
Luke Cage is one of the first Black superheroes I've ever seen outside of Storm. I first saw him in a comic book about him fighting Spider-Man (in the black outfit) and I thought he was a stark contrast to most superheroes I had seen. I noticed in the comic that he wasn't a villain and there was a misunderstanding. Still, I really enjoy how Black Luke Cage and his world is. As his original purpose was for Blaxploitation, his role has expanded to admirable superhero with a superpower that is not too far-fetched. Furthermore, I'm really happy he is about to have his own series (though I'm still mixed about the lead, he was decent in Jessica Jones, but probably could've been better) with a prominently Black cast. Lastly, his current interracial relationship with Jessica Jones is all part of his progressive series.
8. Iron Man
Iron Man may seem like an odd choice for me considering he is a rich white guy, but occasionally I am surprised by them (ex. see Mad Men blog post). This formula most works when it is a conflicted rich white guy who goes through human struggles. Tony Stark is forever conflicted. While we have seen Robert Downey Jr. make a glorious character out of him, he always interesting. From comics to video games (Marvel vs. Capcom 2!) to cartoons he has created his own awesome powers and maybe that's why we like him so much. Iron Man seems like a plausible character that someone could be in real life. Furthermore, a look at his comics will show you how much pain he goes through mentally when dealing foes, allies, and his relationships. He is not a perfect individual and a deeply flawed hero, who is not a purely good character at all. However, there are even greater heroes than him.
7. Wonder Woman
I love this woman for a variety of reasons and I have had a few comic books on her here and there. I had a really great one of the Green Lantern versus Wonder Woman in the 90s that I loved because of how much Wonder Woman stood out on the cover. Let's be real, she's got a magic lasso, invisible plane, super strength and a whole host of Amazonia powers. Some renditions of her are better than others -Gal Gadot looks to be turning out a pretty good one on the big screen - but she always is entertaining and hits on a ton of fantasies for me. Beyond that, she is a strong symbol for women in the primarily male driven world of comics and has always been able to hold her own. She is one of the best of DC.
While the recent show has washed out the bitter gall of the movie, this character was great long before the show. If you have ever read the comics, they range for disturbingly bizarre (I had a couple of strange ones) to unnerving and grisly. Daredevil's violence is apt for the rough character he is. Furthermore, Daredevil has some great villains who are as flawed as he is. The show has breathed so much life into the Daredevil universe and Charlie Cox embodies Matt Murdock well. Lastly, he falls into the greatly flawed superhero category that makes him human minus his abilities of blindness. For that reason, he is much more relatable and easier to cheer as a persistent underdog.
5. Black Panther
I cannot wait to finally see this character on the big screen. If you know anything about me, this entry and the next will make perfect sense. Black Panther of course speaks to Black pride, but he is much more than that. First of all, let it be known that he was the first Black superhero in any comics at all, which is a testament in itself. Furthermore, he is an African king of the fictional kingdom of Wakanda which is a highly advanced society of Africans who have all benefitted from the brilliance of T'Challa (Black Panther). It is such a high contrast from the way many Blacks are depicted in any media that it is a shame it is only fictional (though Mansa Musa technically created his own Wakanda 1,000 years ago). Finally, he has a relationship with Storm, one of my favorite characters of all time. The African Black Power of that couple is filled with such glorious melanin it's a wonder how it was conceived in American comics.
No one was expecting this entry I'm sure, but while Wonder Woman comes close to being; She-Hulk is the fantasy. She is tall, muscular, a lawyer, and has highly flirtatious dialogue. She is also one superheroine whose comics I bought even post college. I love everything about her and the green skin is fun. While the early comics were similar to her cousins, where she was a furious lady who destroyed everything, her later comics (Sensational She-Hulk) and current appearance upgraded her personality and abilities. This also added into a fun TV Show in which she played her legal skills and sex appeal giving her a double threat. It's almost too idealistic of a woman to be true, but somebody wanted a green (ethnically ambiguous?!), intelligent, muscular, and confident. Shulkie is an idol.
3. The X-Men
In one way you could call this cheating in another you could say that isn't this what the superhero universe is? Several villains and heroes battling out in our world. Whatever the version, X-Men works well because the writers have created so many wonderful characters. While we all love a hero and all the aspects of life that goes with him or her, X-Men has many characters that could have their own comic book and do. The stats are as follows: Five out of Seven films so far are pretty great, both the 90s and early 2000s TV shows have strong runs for their own reasons, the video games are always a ton of fun (plus they work great as fighting game characters), and the comics themselves are well done. With this large of a cast, X-Men writers have explored, parenthood, rape, disease, divorce, racism, sexism, homophobia, drugs, colonization and a whole host of other concepts that many comics touch on, but don't always get a chance to because their heroes don't fit that type. With the X-Men all you have to do is find your hero, heroine or villain (Magneto is one of the best villains ever on par with the Joker in my book) and start supporting. My favorites are Psylocke, Magneto and Storm.
While Captain America or Thor, may be the lone hero face of Marvel, they are not as tragic of heroes as Peter Parker (alliteration is common comics). Thor is a God and Captain America is overtly pro-American, but Spider-Man is a reporter who simply got bit by a radioactive spider. Spider-Man has a good villain set (not as good as #1s), a great supporting cast and honestly gets himself tortured nearly every other comic. He faces a lot of pain mentally, physically and emotionally, but keeps at it with a plethora of spider skills. He has great comics (Gwen Stacy), a solid animated show and the first two movies were great. There's something endearing with him that makes you always cheer for him. Furthermore, he's also the superhero who's powers I could see having the most fun with as they only enhance his abilities rather than disfigure, alter or have powers that could be truly dangerous.
The Dark Knight is number one because he is a human with a lot of money, skills and gadgets, but he simply gets the work done rather than gloating about it (see: Iron Man). He has several brilliant comic book runs (A Death in the Family, Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke), one of the best animated shows of all time, a wonderful set of video games, several spin-off animated shows -Batman Beyond -and movies -Mask of the Phantasm, and his movies, for the most part, are well done. I would probably only give a negative mark to the 60s live-action show, but there's an odd appreciation in that show too. Beyond his media presence, Batman has been through hell and back several times. He continues to fight for justice and help the lower class from the shadows whether or not he is vilified or venerated by the same people he protects. He is the human who we all are - loved and hated constantly for a noble cause. Lastly, he has the best rogues gallery of any hero. The Joker alone is enough to praise his villains, but when you add in the friendly foe of Catwoman, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Bane, the Al-Ghuls, and Mr. Freeze, what else do you need.
To the Batcave!
Well that sums up my favorite comic book superheroes. What are you favorite superheroes?
I'm curious to know!
Note: I hate Superman so don't even ask.